February begins with two contrasting gigs with saxophonist Paul Dunmall. The first is on Sunday 2nd February as part of the Ideas of Noise Festival, and sees the festival move out into the Black Country and to the very atmospheric venue the Claptrap in Stourbridge for a Sunday afternoon gig from 2pm. On this occasion Paul will leading a quartet featuring Jeff Williams on drums. Jeff is from the USA and divides his time between London and New York fitting into different scenes in both cities. Back in the 1970s Jeff was playing with Stan Getz and co-led the Lookout Farm group with Dave Liebman shortly after Liebman left the Miles Davis Band. I’d say Jeff has found his niche here in UK leading his own bands and playing in interestingly adventurous bands such as that led by Olie Brice. As far as I’m aware, this will be the first time that Paul and Jeff will have played together and I for one am looking forward to seeing what happens. It’s a strong quartet with Percy Pursglove on trumpet and Olie Brice on bass.
Then on Thursday 6th February we have the second of the Paul Dunmall Invites series at the Eastside Jazz Club at the Conservatoire. The series involves Paul inviting a different group of musicians each month on the first Thursday of the month during term time, and on this occasion it is a quartet featuring Liam Noble on piano plus John Edwards on bass and Mark Sanders on drums. The first of the series early in January was a great success and this one promises to be equally good. I know that the group is one of Paul’s favourites; they have often worked together and the interaction between Paul and Liam works really well. And the partnership between John and Mark is one of the joys of improvised music, constantly inventive and providing a really strong, swinging foundation to the music. There will be a student group led by Dan Wilby playing at 6.30, and the main group will play at 7.45.
On Thursday 13th February we are back at the Eastside Jazz Club for what promises to be an excellent quartet. It’s led by saxophonist Martin Speake and features one of my favourite pianists, Ethan Iverson. Ethan was long a key member of The Bad Plus, but is now concentrating on his own career. It will be great to hear him in the intimate setting of the club, especially as he will be in excellent company with former Brad Mehldau drummer Jorge Rossy and Calum Gourlay on bass. The interaction between Speake and Iverson is very special and again this should be enhanced by the intimacy of the club. It’s the usual pattern for the evening with a student support slot at 6.30 with a group led by Matt Hollick, a very promising bass player, and the main group at 7.45.
The events in the Eastside Jazz Club are co-promotions with the Jazz Department at the Conservatoire
Finally, on Thursday 20th February (8pm) in the Hexagon Theatre at mac we celebrate the music of free improvising saxophonist Trevor Watts, one of the pioneers of free jazz in UK and Europe who is still going strong and playing with great fire and passion in his 80s. For this his first visit to Birmingham for many years he’ll be playing in a project entitled Dialogue With Strings with Alison Blunt on violin and Hannah Marshall on cello, plus Veryan Weston on piano.
Details: Paul Dunmall Quartet at Claptrap Stourbridge https://ideasofnoise.com/tickets
Paul Dunmall Invites https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rbc-paul-dunmall-invites-tickets-90288295723
Martin Speake Quartet https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rbc-ethan-iverson-and-martin-speake-tickets-90288813271
Trevor Watts Dialogue With Strings https://macbirmingham.co.uk/event/tde-promotions-presents-trevor-watts-and-dialogue-with-strings